No spend challenges are for wussies

January 31, 2011 · 54 comments

If you read other PF blogs, which I hope you do, I’m sure you’ve seen various bloggers participate in no spend challenges. These challenges come in all shapes and sizes, but the general premise is pretty simple; Don’t spend you’re money on frivolous things. No Starbucks. No dining out. No clothes, movies, or gadgets. At the end of the day, week, or month, you’re suppose to feel like a financial rock star. But I’m here to make you feel like a wussy. Yeah, a wussy, welcome back to third grade!

Why anyone would want to participate in one of these challenges is beyond me. If I said, “Hey guys, let’s not eat food for a month so we can lose weight” would you join me? Heck no you wouldn’t. So why would you join me if I said let’s not spend our hard earned money on things that bring us warm fuzzy feelings? Things like chocolate, Dr. Pepper, and Finding Nemo (a delightful combination might I add).

If you want to lose weight, you don’t stop eating, you eat healthier. If you want to stop spending like a hot mess, you don’t stop spending, you learn to spend responsibly. Why does it have to be all or nothing? Instead of no spend challenges, why can’t we have spend only $50 or spend only $150 challenges?

Personally, I think these no spend challenges are for wussies. Or at least for people who need a false sense of self-control.

But hey, who am I to judge? Oh wait, that’s right. I’m a freakin’ ninja! I’ll judo chop your face off if you join any of those silly things.

Now it’s your turn to get even No Spend lovers. Tell me why they’re so great!

Have you ever participated in a no spend challenge? Was it the most incredible thing you’ve ever been a part of? Anyone else think they are just an excuse for people to pat themselves on the back?

note: Of course I’m being a drag drama queen. I don’t really think No Spend Challenges are as evil as I make them about to be, but they are definitely not for me :)

1 Melissa

No, please don’t tell me you changed the original concept for one person’s opinion. Yes, anorexia is terrible… but don’t we all poke fun at things that are terrible sometimes?

2 Ninja

Just a few simple edits. no dramatic changes. Think the message/debate should still be the same :)

3 Lysander

The real reason that I think that short-term no-spending challenges (week(s) or a month) don’t work is that for the most part the spending is just shifted to either before the challenge or just after the challenge is completed.

I think that if you get to a longer term (6 month or more) they do have a place because after that long of time behaviors HAVE changed. You have come to realize that you don’t HAVE to spend on X to enjoy life.

I agree that it doesn’t help you learn to live within limits, but it will make it easier to live within limits when you do go back to spending on X.

That is just how my experience has gone.

4 First Gen American

I’vw never participated but I can see how they can kick start someone’s behaviour change. If someone eats out 4x/week,but then doesn’t do it for a month, it might just well be easier to adjust to once a week after the month is over. I also think people learn stuff about themselves during these exercises. I’ve always wondered if my spending patterns would change if I ditched the credit card for a month or two.

Diets have never worked for me. I have always had to just add more activity into my life, so I know it’s not the type of thing that would motivate me. I’m pretty sure I’d yo yo back to my old habit as soon as the spend challenge is done.

5 The Asian Pear

I’ve participated in No Spend Months in the past. I’m now giving myself a strict $150 budget monthly.
I believe either way the concept is the same though… Whereas NSDs force you to be more productive and creative with your time and how you do it, the budget is more lenient. It’s not viable long term but it’s a challenge to be better with your money. So even if it is just to “pat yourself” on the back, I think it’s a good thing. Especially if you previously were not spend thrifty at all.

6 Judi

I haven’t participated in one, and probably won’t, only because with a family as large as ours, we usually have to go and buy something at the store, be it milk, bread, or more fruit because the rotters, em, I mean children, are eating us out of house and home. I mean, we could buy enough one day so we don’t have to spend on one day, but that’s just doing what Lysander said in their comment above…prespending or postponing spending.

7 LoganG

Same reason I think government pay and budget freezes are not the answer to our deficit problem. It just makes people feel good in the short terms so they can put off substantive change until later…

8 Niki

I am currently participating in a no eating out challenge for myself. And I believe I have created a substantial change in our spending habits in the last six months. We have been putting over 25% of our income towards our debt goals and adding extra income here and there. We have dramatically cut our spending and I do personally feel like a rock star. I think challenges are fun, but maybe I am just a wuss and should return to the third grade.
It is nice to have other bloggers go through the same things to learn pitfalls or what their ideas of what was successful. Even if they are just other wussies so maybe it would be nice to have a “ninja” have our back.

9 Mo D.

I haven’t participated in one, and I never would; the frivolous spending was the whole reason behind our setting ourselves up with allowances. It allows us some money for the “fun stuff” without the guilt of taking it out of the family pot. I’m not giving up my once-every-3-weeks-manicures, so I pay for them out of my allowance. I find buying coffee at a local shop every day frivolous spending, but Hubby doesn’t (he uses allowance money to buy his daily coffee/breakfast bagel). Believe me, it makes for less financial arguments, and Hubby reaps the benefits of my manicures (they allow for EXCELLENT back scratches!).

Everything in moderation; I think putting a stop to frivolous spending would put a false sense of security on some people, and they’d revert back to bad spending habits quickly. All the power to those that can stop spending and they succeed at it… but it’s not for us.

10 Kristia@Family Balance Sheet

Hey I am not a wuss!

We have done no-spend challenges before, mainly to build back up our savings that was depleted slightly from some sudden home and auto repairs. We cut out any unnecessary spending. We didn’t feel deprived and we didn’t go overboard when the challenge was over. We were working towards a common goal of building our savings back up and a nice fat savings account gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling more than any Starbucks latte could.

No Spend Challenges may not be for everyone, but personal finance is personal and you do what works for you.

11 Money Beagle

I’m sort of with you, but I think that they really don’t work. I see a lot of people say “Well, we used all the food in our cupboard so we were able to not spend anything this week.” All fine and dandy except now you are going to have to buy food next week for sure, and eventually you’ll want to re-stock said cupboard, so you’ll end up spending the money anyways, and probably at a higher rate than you were used to spending before you’re no-spend week, which could cause alarm in and of itself.

12 Bruce

I have never participated in one, but I can see the point of them for folks that really have a spending problem. I still think you need to spend money on groceries and bills at the minimum. What this could do is let those know that they survived without the need of going to the stores and spend money on things they think they needed. Personally I don’t spend much money at all except for survival items like food and bills. When the warm weather comes I will spend money on gas for my boating activities. My goal is to be debt free. I have a boat loan that will be paid off in a few months and then it will be my mortgage next. I also found that I have everything i need, but it did take spending in the past to get me there.

13 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

I agree with you. I earn money so I can spend some of it.

However, I did just complete an “only water” challenge where I drank nothing but water for a month, and that was a great experience. It made my joint pain in my knee go away after a year of pain when I exercise. I highly recommend the only water challenge.

14 ss4bc

I’m glad the anorexia comments were toned.

It isn’t the same thing because we need nutrients to live. We don’t need movies, Dr pepper, or chocolate to live.

And for many people no spend challenges are what they need to realize their desire for superficial is a want, not a necessity.

15 Finding My Way to Debt Free

Hi Ninja – I wouldn’t say I participate in a challenge per se, but I do track the days that I make it through where no money moves anywhere on my financial radar. For me it’s about planning my spending as responsibly as I can. So, on a day when an automatic payment leaves my account I’ll also grocery shop, top up on gas, eat out with friends, take in a concert, or some other form of entertainment. There are days when only the automatic payment moves, and days when I spend money on life without having any other payment move. I play this game with myself to see if I can choose my life with a little more purpose, and go for a couple of days without any money moving anywhere.

There are others that do no-spend challenges that mean they don’t shop for a month or what have you. I don’t do those – mainly because I’ve already corrected those types of behaviours. I only track my no-spend days to see how many I can come up with in a year. It helps me understand that I still have behaviours I can change and better, and by tracking those days that have no money moving I am understanding in myself that I don’t need to spend money to have a great life!

I am working on 100 for this year. So far I’ve had 9 days in January whereby no money moved anywhere. Please note though that I only decline invites to do things when I truly am unable to responsibly fit it into my budget and my debt repayment has been taken care of. I don’t not use a no-spend challenge to crutch my life or to hold myself back.

16 Daisy

I did a no spend month in January & failed. Maybe they’re not for me. But I don’t think one month is a long period of time to go without spending on things that aren’t neccessary. I think you can still have fun without spending money, although many of my friends would disagree, hence the fail.
I’ve switched to just budgeting myself – I can spend money, I just can’t spend a ton. I think $80/month sounds reasonable.

17 Larry

These “no-spend challenges,” or whatever you want to call them, sound to me like a modern equivalent of medieval self-flagellation. One punishes one’s self in order to feel virtuous, and if one fails at the challenge, well then (duh) one feels like a failure.

I think it’s all nonsense. My strategy for saving and spending each pay period is simple: put away a designated amount in the retirement plan, pay all the bills, decide the level below which the checking balance cannot go, and do whatever I want with the rest. If this means (horrors!) that I buy a book or see a movie or eat out or spend a weekend in Madagascar, that’s too bad. If you’re seriously in debt or behind in your retirement planning, then cut back on your spending. If not, under-spending is as bad for the economy as a whole as is over-spending, because if you’re not eating out once in a while some server is losing their job. Multiply that by millions of people and you’ve got a real national problem.

18 Jason

I’m sure you’ve seen this video already, but incase you haven’t here is a ninja video I thought you would enjoy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2U-ZQMf56I
“West Virginia Ninja”

19 SP

I haven’t participated in one, and generally try to target a specific area if I do a challenge.

BUT I totally respect them and htink they can be really good. What it does is breaks you of “habit” spending and also just removes you from the process of thinking you need to buy stuff. Spending often begets more spending. From reading your blog, this doesn’t really seem to be true for you (and it isn’t for everyone) so maybe that is why it doesn’t make a lot of sense for you.

If you were eating a lot of crappy food and went on a strict “no-junk food” diet for a month, not only would you feel better, it would help you learn healthy habits! It isn’t the same as a no food diet!

20 CityFlips

Oh man. I couldn’t agree more. I make an effort to spend less in certain frivolous categories if I know I need to save money one month, but there is just no way I could NOT spend money all month. At least I don’t think I could. Props to all the people who do, but I’m just not there.

21 Kaye

I’ve never participated in one, but I can see why they wouldn’t work for some (just go back to old habits) and do for others. Some people have really found that they don’t NEED all the things they typically buy in a month and cutting out that spending help them learn that. Others learned just how loosely they threw money around by being more AWARE of their spending throught this challenge. Others learned how to say “no” to spending for the first time and were able to apply that in the future months. Going forward they were able to cut those things out and free up money to spend on other things (or pay off debt or build up savings). I think it is a good challenge to give you perspective, but not something that you would want to commit your life to.

22 This Guy

In my opinion, no spend challenges are as pathetic and emotionally driven as quick diet plans. It’s simple, they don’t work. They are strictly for immediate gratification w/ no longer term plan.

If you want to lose weight, you don’t diet for a month so that then you go back to eating the same garbage the next month. It requires a lifestyle change. You have to change you mindset and habits in a do-able but healthy way for good.

Same with spending. You cant “no spend” for a week or month and expect permanent change. It requires a lifestyle change toward responsiblity with your money in order to see results.

But that’s just me…….

23 Makky's Mom

I’m not a fan of “no spend” challenges either. Frankly, I’ve already cut our budget down to the bare bone. If we cut out anything more it will just serve to frustrate me. When I *NEED* a new bottle of tylenol or a box of feminine hygeine products, I just NEED it now, not tomorrow when I’m allowed to spend money. To me, if you’ve already reigned in impulse spending, and you’ve set a reasonable and manageable budget that affords you all the things you need and a few of the things you might want, that’s good enough!

I won’t be doing any “no spend” challenges!
In fact, I already feel like my entire life is a “no spend” challenge so I would never sign up to make it even more challenging!

24 Alotta Lettuce

Amen! I completely agree with you, although I admit to having TRIED to undertake no-spend challenges in the past. But, I’ve learned my lesson, because they simply don’t work – not for me anyway. First, I end up completely fixated on not spending money, and the more I THINK about not spending money, the more I WANT to. Also, I don’t think it REALLY benefits most peoples’ finances in the long run, because I suspect that a lot of people start them AFTER a deliberate spending binge, knowing what’s coming. And a lot of other people simply delay crazy spending until it’s over.

These days, I don’t make ridiculous rules centered around forcing myself or my husband to do (or not do) something. Instead, we make a spending plan – often a very ambitious one – and stay mindful of it throughout the week or month, thinking critically about every potential purpose and whether we REALLY want or need it. Usually, we make the right decision.

25 Brittany

I am with you, not spending money is a bad idea because eventually you will give in a spend out of control to make up for the time! I am more of a ‘spend responsibly’ sort of person. I include my once a month spa day into my monthly budget and then allow $300 a month to live off of and play with. The rest of my money goes entirely to bills and debt. So essentially, I give myself $415 a month to do what I want with. I treat myself to a monthly massage and then have money afterward for gas to visit friends, movie nights on the weekends, Starbucks in the morning, and a new shirt or something if I choose. All the while, I am seeing my gross debt total diminishing month by month. With the exception of Student loans, I will be debt free this summer!

26 Red

Well, Ninja, as someone who’s debt free, it’s easy for you to say that NOW. But I seem to remember you making comments about how stingy you were with your money when you were getting out of debt.

I don’t see a BIG point in doing a no spend challenge if you’re out of debt. Unless your spending is out of control, there’s no reason to cut Diet Dr. Pepper from your life without some end financial goal.

BUT I’m doing one this year because I’m in debt and want to find creative/cheap ways to have fun. I’d also like to challenge myself – is there a cheaper way to do these things that I thought were “necessities” before (like haircuts, laundry detergent, lady products)? Because, yeah, paying off my debt is more important than seeing a lame movie or drinking coffee. I don’t have to spend money to spend time with family or friends, and they’re the most important part of my life. So I don’t feel like I’m losing anything. (However, I am hoarding a Regal Cinemas gift card for November 2011 when I’m going to see the next Twilight movie with my mom. Don’t judge me.)

27 Ninja

It is easy for me to say Red. I am debt free and loving it. You’ve followed my blog for quite some time. How many No Spend challenges do you recall me partaking in when I WAS in debt? Oh, wait. That’s right…NONE!. No spend challenges don’t get people out of debt. RESPONSIBLE SPENDING DOES!!!!!! I still took vacations, ate out, and bought “toys” while I had $28,000 in student loans. I just did so reasonably and when it made sense. I never said frugality was a bad thing, just think no spend challenges are :)

Ninja:1, Red:0

28 Red

But how much FASTER would you have been out of debt if you didn’t buy your silly little toys? I don’t think a person should stop living because they are in debt, but there are responsible, fun ways to spend money while in debt that don’t require you to take vacations, buy toys, or eat out. And shouldn’t you be advocating for the most responsible ways to get out of debt? Would you tell a family that is $28,000 in debt to take a vacation? I hope not!

Don’t you worry, Ninja. I’ve got a response post ready to go on the blog. And while some of your readers are swimming in debt and spending $300 a month on stuff they don’t need, I’ll be happy knowing I’ll be out of debt years before them. :-p

29 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

I have $22,000 in student loan debt, and I will be spending 3 weeks in Costa Rica this summer. I’m also going to Chicago this weekend to snowboard and see friends. I’ll also buy lots of stuff and go out to eat and buy things and donate money and give gifts and more. Why? First, because my debt is good debt at a low interest and I will take as long as I can to pay it off. Second, You can’t take it with you when you’re gone (either the money or the debt). As long as you don’t have high interest debt and you are spending less than you make, I say live your life.

But, if a no spending challenge makes you happy, then go for it. If that’s how you want to live your life, I support that too.

30 Red

Well, I completely disagree with the idea that there is such a thing as “good debt.” All debt is money owed to someone else, money that is not yours. I’d rather bank that payment each month, whether the interest rate is low or not. I’ve covered that idea extensively on my own blog though – I want the freedom to take a low paying job without worrying about my student loan debt. But not every person doing a no spend challenge has “good” debt – what about the people with high interest debt? Is it okay for them to do the things you’re doing?

And I also disagree with the assertion that you have to spend money to “live your life.” I hear that all too often, and I think it’s how people get into debt in the first place. “Oh, I’m young. Who cares if I put this vacation on a credit card? I need to LIVE! I’ll make more money later, and I can pay it off then.” Or “I’m young, and it’s normal to take out ridiculous amounts of student loans! I’ll pay it all off later…” Well, who’s to say you can’t live just as fully without going on vacation, without going shopping every month, without going out to eat? It’s all about an individuals’ priorities, and it’s offensive – to me, at least – when people assume that you don’t have a life because you choose to live responsibly and don’t find value in the things they spend money on. I have just as much fun NOW as I did before – only now I feel BETTER about the money I spend because I know I’m doing the right thing for my future self. And that makes me a wuss?

31 SS4BC

Stop drinking the Kool-Aid. There is NO such thing as “good debt”. There may be “better” debt or “worse” debt. But there sure as heck is no GOOD debt.

Not saying you shouldn’t go to Costa Rica, that sounds awesome. I totally would go too if all I had was student loan debt.

But debt, not matter what the interest rate, is still debt.

32 SS4BC

Ninja, you didn’t win that one.

Just because YOU didn’t do something doesn’t mean that doing that thing is invaluable.

I’m sure you’ve never taken a Chemistry class from me. But, that doesn’t mean that since you didn’t do it that it isn’t valuable thing for another person to do. (I went through a lot of example before deciding on this one, including rebuilding a car from base parts, having a baby, and rescuing a downing man who spits strawberries in your mouth).

Face it Ninja, there are plenty of perfectly valuable things in the world that you don’t want to do, may never get to do, don’t need to do, won’t get the chance to do. That doesn’t make them invaluable.

Spending challenges aren’t the same as binge and purge dieting. They’re the equivalent of saying “let me take a step back for a moment, cut out everything for a momemnt, and see what I REALLY need”. They are an exercise in trying to find out what IS responsible spending.

Not everyone is a tight wad frugal like you, Ninja. ;) We don’t all have heart convulsions at $5 lattes. So those exercises are valuable for determining what can be trimmed and what won’t be missed.

(Also, I should note, I have never participated in a no spend challenge, just a no eating out one – for 8 months – which was immensely valuable and completely changed my view of eating out.)

33 krystalatwork

I used to be absolutely against “no spend” challenges until I actually did it myself. Not only did I save money, but it also helped me evaluate my spending patterns, as well as what I truly valued spending my money on. No, it’s not for everyone, but as someone who has been out of debt for almost 4 years, I saw it as a fun financial challenge, and a way to save money on things I didn’t really need to begin with.

For those that think it just shifts your spending to another time, when you aren’t on a “no spend” challenge, I think that is true to some extent. But when you make whatever challenge you create into something long-term, it really does save you money. And it changes your life. Example: I just finished up a 6-month “no spend” challenge on clothing/accessories/shoes. I *thought* that once I finished up, I would just spend like crazy again. But instead, I became very aware of my spending, and only bought what I truly wanted (which wasn’t much). And I spent much, much less than I would have if I had let myself spend over the 6 month ban. As a former shopaholic, I can tell you that it’s an amazing feeling. I didn’t feel like I was spending frivolously before the challenge, but I did buy things just because I wanted to – not because I needed them. Now, it’s so empowering to know that if I wanted to take my saving to a whole new level, I absolutely could.

Currently, I am on 2 different “no spend” challenges for 2011. 1) I will not spend money on lunch/snacks/coffees during the work week for the entire year, and 2) I am again not spending money on clothing/shoes/accessories for the entire year, with the exception of 1 week in May. The main reason, again, is to challenge myself to do something new. But I also will enjoy the financial benefits in a year that I’m focusing on saving money and traveling as much as I can.

34 Red

Oh, meant to add… It IS completely useless to do a no spend challenge if all you do is stock up on crap before the challenge starts. It totally defeats the purpose. That’s why the only thing I did before starting my challenge was go to my favorite pizza joint and pig out. ;)

35 SS4BC

Agreed. Stock piling before hand just makes me gag everytime I read it. lol

36 krantcents

I agree with you! No spend challenges is not the way to deal with overspending.

37 slug

I think you meant pussy. Sorry, did that take it up to a middle school insult? I mean c’mon if you simply live a life of moderation, you’re going to be fine. With that, this month’s no spend challenge for me will be no heroin and no midget porn.

38 Clare

My personal take is that a no spend challenge is done in order to serve yourself a swift reality check. If you want to stop spending in certain places, why not stop spending everywhere unnecessary, even if it’s only for a short while? I think it’s a great tool to save money/get out of debt and it takes a ton of willpower so I don’t think it’s for wussies. At all. That said, I’m a big believer of having a “fun” allowance so I’m (sort of) with you on this one.

39 Nicolette

Your argument is flawed by the fact that not all people who participate in a no spend activity don’t have good spending habits and that having fun has to be paid for.
To use food as an example is ridiculous because as you are correct you can’t stop eating for a month or you will either die or be severely malnourished, but to not spend money on one certain thing for a month will not kill you. I actually would argue that most people who do these challenges are more willing to continue with them. As someone else personal finance is just that personal.
Way to piss off another group of people in just two short days.

40 rachaek

Goodness, the comments are cranky

I enjoy the occasional no spend challenge, as it helps me to “reset” and remember what I really need, not just want

41 Kasey

It’s not that tough to solve this debate guys. Different strokes for different folks.

I’d agree that a no-spend challenge probably won’t do much to change your regular spending habits. In fact, when the challenge is over some people may be more likely to overspend to reward themselves.

One month of no-spending probably won’t eliminate debt issues either. It could help just a little, but all I see happening is having a few hundred extra bucks to pay down debt that month. BUT – I think such a challenge could open up someone’s eyes to things they could be doing INSTEAD of spending money on themselves.

People actually do “fast” for a month and stop eating solid foods. It’s not a smart way to loose weight, but apparently there are health benefits. Great…now I’m hungry and have 2 hours until lunch. Time to spend some money on overpriced chips in the vending machine.

42 Gin

I don’t like no-spend challeneges for the reasons ou mentioned. Why wouldn’t I want to spend money on something that makes me happy? If I see a good deal on something that I’ve been wanting or if it makes my day easier to order takeout on Wednesday nights (the day I take my three children to the arena for no less than three hours of hockey practice), I think I should be able to do that–espeically because I am frugal in other areas.
That said, I still like to challenge myself financially. I’m going to try to make February a no-takeout month–but it’s as much for the sake of my waistline as it is for my bank balance.
If no-spending challenges help people, then great! I just think that it’s akin to “I will only eat healthy food” diets–for me, a recipe for failure. I have to take small steps. :)

43 Squirrelers

A no-spend challenge seems impossible to maintain over the long run. Why push oneself to do extreme things? Having said, that if it’s for the short term and just to try to jump start certain specific behavior changes, that’s ok. For example, not eating out for 2 work weeks and packing lunch from home.

One challenge I’ve done has been to have no caffeine for month of January. I was back to drinking multiple caffeinated drinks per day toward the end of 2010, now I’ve easily gone without any thus far. It’s prompted some good behavioral changes. Does this mean that I’ll never have any caffeine again? No, that’s not realistic. But not being hooked on it is huge.

44 Jenny_Dee

I did the no-spend thing on my own; I didn’t realize there were challenges set up on PF blogs. I’ve tried to not spend on the movies or eating out, or the worst was not replacing a semi-broken DVD burner on my computer. I’ll tell you what happened – I’d go two months or so without buying stuff, then WHAM, I’d splurge. It’s in part to my lack of discipline (I’m working toward discipline) in spending, and part that I see the money in the bank.

Putting off spending for a month or two doesn’t do anything (for me) but build up a sense of resentment. Or frustration, in the case of the broken DVD burner. I’d have to hit the ‘open’ button dozens of times before the drawer opened, frustrating but still fuctional, so I tried to leave it open, eventually bending it downward when I kicked it, resulting in me buying a new DVD burner for $40.

To flex my new discipline-fu, I’m trying to anticipate upcoming spends and saving for them. Which reminds me, Rocky Horror is showing next weekend and I must get my ticket – do the time warp, baby!

45 Youngandthrifty

The debate is getting heated up in here!

I agree with some of the posters- everyone has a different strategy that works for them. That’s what makes personal finance, so personal.

Personally I have not partaken in a challenge myself, and I believe in moderation, but I can see the benefit of having a challenge- the goals are concrete and easy to follow. I don’t buy coffee or go out for lunch at work, but occasionally maybe one every month or two months I do buy a coffee with coworkers.

46 Journey To Our Home

We have just cut back on our spending to spend responsibly with our money.
My husband would probably die if he wasn’t allowed to spend money on ‘frivolous’ things. But what I think is actually frivolous he thinks as necessity- which is the same as lots of people.
Whereas some people may think spending the extra money on organic food is frivolous, it is a priority for someone else. Everyone is unique in their PF journey. And if a No Spend Challenge helps them along the way or helps put spending in perspective- I say they should go for it!

47 spiffikins

While I haven’t participated in any no-spend challenges, I can see how they could be useful in a couple of ways

1) a “challenge” can be exciting – it can help you generate enthusiasm and kick you into gear to accomplish your goals
2) I think it might be pretty eye-opening for some people – if they committed to not spending any money for a full day – to see exactly where they normally *do* spend money. For that reason alone, a no-spend challenge could help point out to people where their money is really going.

I think if the idea behind a no-spend challenge is really to make you *think* each time you go to pull out your wallet – then the point isn’t so much to not spend the $4 on the latte – but to make you realize consciously where you are spending your money.

For me, frugality isn’t so much *not* spending money – as it is being *mindful* of where and how I spend my money.

I’m pretty good on the big ticket items, and I definitely have my savings plan working. But in my day to day purchases, I could stand to be more mindful of what I’m doing – and if I *really* need to spend that money on that item.

Some of the comments said a no-spend challenge just pushes out the purchases you would make anyway. That’s true for some purchases – but if it truly was an impulse buy, and the no-spend challenge made you skip it – if at the end of the challenge you still want/need it – that’s probably a good indication that it was worth buying. My guess is, a lot of that “noise” of impulse purchases is what the no-spend challenges really help you filter out – and for that, it’s probably worth doing every so often.

48 sashie

Well, I am currently on a no-spend challenge, and it is really teaching me a lot about my spending patterns. I started on December 21st and plan to go through March 21st (a quarter of no frivolous spending).

I wasn’t carrying debt before I started this challenge, but I also wasn’t saving as much money as I wanted in order to meet some goals. It has been eye opening. And I have saved literally hundreds of dollars that have gone straight into investment accounts.

Is it for everyone, no maybe not. But I liken my personal challenge more to switching up an exercise routine when you find yourself plateauing. Each time that happens to me, I need to change what I am doing to make more progress. If I had been running primarily, I might switch to yoga and weight lifting. Or do more swimming. When I target different types of exercise, I push through the plateau and make more progress.

I had plateaued with my finances. This no spend challenge made me look at where my money was going, and where to make some changes. It has been working for me, and that’s the real story – we each need to find what works for us and our finances. :)

49 Little House

I just can’t do the no-spend thing either. I really need my Starbucks, it’s my one and only luxury. I’ve just gotten better at budgeting a portion of my income towards my teeny, weeny luxury so I can still have money left over to save and invest. Yeah, I could save that extra $50 a month, but then I’d be a grumpy b!@tch. I’d rather spend the 50.

50 AlysonIsNeat

You obviously have never heard of me (because if you did, you’d know that calling me a wussie is just opening yourself up to be punched in the throat, b/c I’m not a ninja, just a bad ass). ;) I can agree that short-term no spending challenges can give you a false sense of self-control. However, long-term is another story, which is a point you do not discuss in your post.

The real purpose of a challenge like this should be to change your habits, not just glorify yourself (or even worse, bring followers to your blog) or give yourself a false sense of self-control. I didn’t buy clothing for an entire year. Did it completely change the way I thought of shopping? HELL YES. I realized I am a shopaholic (using present tense because once a-holic always a -holic right?) and the only way I was going to break, was to deny myself of one of the few fantastic pleasures I knew… because it wasn’t healthy for me to use my emotions as an excuse to spend money.

So, you can say I’m a wussie all you want, but I disagree with you. I think you can do a no spending challenge for the right reasons, I also think you can do them for the wrong reasons. But if you walk away from it changed, then you got the point.

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